Q: I have trial readiness court scheduled tomorrow. Can i tell my lawyer that i am not happy and want a different lawyer?
He has done nothing to help me at all. He hasn't contacted any witnesses and he barely remembers anything from the last time we spoke. He just stands around laughing and chatting with the DA and tries to convince me to take a deal. He hasnt returnes my emails and i feel like he hasnt tried to do anything. If i do fire him what happens next? Does the court appoint me another lawyer or...?
A: You could ask the court for a Marsden hearing, where you have the opportunity to explain the breakdown in the attorney client relationship (because of his refusal to investigate/subpoena witnesses) such that you have no trust in the lawyer's ability to defend you, and request appointment of a new lawyer, which would mean a continuance of trial. Or, you could ask the lawyer to request a continuance of trial based on new witnesses (you hand him the names & address of) that are necessary for trial. Or, you could ask for a continuance to hire private counsel.
A: attorney Rhonda Hixon is right on with her answer.
it is usually not a good item to discuss on an open forum like this.
often the problem is not that the attorney has done anything wrong but that the deal presented by the DA is one to be considered..........and the lawyer does not do a good job of explaining why and what the down side is if you go to trial and lose.
many things factor into decisions like that.........do you have a record? on probation or parole?
most courts are lenient now with covid so you can probably buy some time.
A: Assuming you have a Public Defender, if you ask for a Marsden hearing your request for the appointment of a new attorney will likely be granted. You'll get an attorney on the "Conflict Panel" who work on a flat fee basis. Here in Riverside County, it's a $500 flat fee unless the case goes to trial in which case it goes up to a measly $1,500 so they have a disincentive to do anything other than twist your arm to accept the DA's offer. After 2 or perhaps 3 appearances max if they can't convince you to take the offer, they'll ask for a Marsden hearing to withdraw and you'll get another conflict panel defense attorney appointed and go through the same thing.
Your best bet is to avoid that merry-go-round, ask for a continuance (routinely granted) and hire a skilled, experienced and hard working criminal defense attorney who knows what he (or she) are doing.
Best of luck to you.
A: Think about a public defender like any other government job.
When you get on the bus, you don't get to pick the driver. When you live in public housing, you don't get to pick the plumber your landlord sends to unplug your sink. You don't get to pick your firefighter, election poll worker or public librarian. Did anyone ask if you wanted to be arrested by that particular cop?
Often, one public defender's office represents everyone it legally can, so even the best lawyers can suffer from overwork. You can petition the court for a new court-appointed lawyer, as others have pointed out, but keep in mind that a lawyer is not likely to be replaced without a showing of incompetence or malpractice.
One way to guarantee your lawyer meets all your needs could be to hire private counsel.
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